Remember Ray Bradbury’s story “The Veldt”? It’s about an automated house that does everything for the family that lives in it, right down to rocking the children to sleep. There’s even a virtual reality room that allows the kids to telepathically manifest their thoughts, to some ultimately horrifying results (it involves their parents and some lions). Thankfully, this story was written in a time when home automation was merely a twinkle in engineers’ eyes, and the systems that have come alive in modern times are much less sinister than Bradbury’s imaginings. Types of automation are available to make your house smarter, controlling everything from lighting to heating to home security. Read on to learn the basics.
What Home Automation Systems Do
Home automation systems are computerized and sometimes-remote networks that help you manage certain features of your home, like appliances and temperature control. The primary goal is to make your life easier because you can allow the system to run important cycles or take care of small tasks that you might forget. With home automation, depending on your system, you can program your heating needs once and the technology will lower the temperature accordingly to keep you comfortable and your bills low. Or you can set it up to sense when you’re in the room and adjust the lighting. Automation systems can be as simple or complex as you need them to be. If you just want to manage your lights, a simple remote system like that in INSTEON’s product line will work, whereas more comprehensive systems like Control4 can handle everything.
Home Automation System Types
Navigating the wilds of home automation can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If you’re considering installing an automatic system, it helps to learn the different types and primary functions of each. Below are some of the most common systems you can select.
Remote controlled systems are likely the easiest form of home automation to install if you don’t want an entire integrated system. They are controlled only when you are inside your home, but they still make things easier. Most of these function best with simpler tasks, like selecting lighting. Products like Leviton’s HAI, for example, simply require you to plug your lamps into a module that plugs into the wall and responds to signals from a handheld remote.
Integrated systems are a jump up from remote-controlled options. With these, like Embedded Automation’s mControlV3, you program the hardware to take care of multiple household tasks, like managing your lighting, thermostat, and security system. These are often controlled via an app on your smartphone or tablet, and they are perfect if you’re frequently away from home.
If you don’t pride yourself on having much prowess when it comes to installing electronics, technology companies like AT&T and ADT offer automation services for which you pay monthly usage fees. These providers come into your home and install the required hardware, whether you want security cameras, remote-controlled door locks, or water sensors to notify you of a roof leak. You can control these systems from a remote location, such as your office, using your phone or a provided remote with a digital interface touchpad.
The future has arrived in full force, but you’re not at its mercy. With home automation, you have full control over your house’s behavior. Put your mind at ease knowing that your doors are locked, the lights are on, and the lions are enjoying the surround sound in the home theater while you’re still at work.
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